I know, I know, I KNOW! By and large ‘resolution’ pieces are big fat, jaw-dislocating yawns featuring things that are nice in theory (e.g. taking up ice climbing or upcycling all your nursery furniture) but almost impossible to put into practice when you have a child and a job. But I promise this one is going to be different. And it’s going to be different, because instead of smugly pretending that I have stumbled upon a set of solutions that are going to make our lives 1%, 2%, 15% or 60% better, I’m simply going to tell you some changes I am going to make in a bid to become a better parent in 2017. Got that? Good. Then without further ado, let’s get onto my ‘Project Better Parent’ to-do list.
It would take Gina Ford around 0.6 milliseconds to work out that our current method of chastising our son’s bad behaviour isn’t working. This morning, for example, he laughed loudly when I gave him a 10-second time out for persistent headbutts, and even more raucously when my wife issued the same sanction for depositing the contents of our recycling bin on the floor. In some ways, it’s cute. In other ways, enough is enough. We need to find a better way of teaching him right from wrong, so from tomorrow onwards we’re bringing in The Naughty Step (cue EastEnders-style drum roll).
I’ve started to dread breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is partly because it takes a full-on pot banging, condiment juggling, nursery rhyme nailing Royal Variety Performance to keep our son happy in his chair. And partly because the moment he sucks in a piece of food that requires even the smallest amount of chewing he attempts to make himself sick. It’s testing, it’s tiring and it’s turned me into a parent, who churns out the same bland and liquidised dishes meal after meal after meal after meal.
Has this streamlined diet reduced the amount of shirts I need to wash? Yes. Is this a good enough reason to force my son to eat from a set menu while all his peers dine a la carte? Yes. Ha, got you. Of course, it’s not. Restricting his food options is not healthy, so it’s not going to continue. This year, his taste buds are getting tantalised whether I like the consequences or not.
What’s 11 months old, half-Scottish and always awake at 4am? The answer is my son, and towards the end of last year his disinterest in sleeping through the night began to take its toll on my usually sunny disposition. It was a moany, groany, whiny blow, but was it a fatal one? Was it heck. After a restful festive season, fun me is back and I’m going to make sure he’s here to stay by taking a leaf out of my kid’s book. No, I’m not talking about shoving any item I can pick up in my mouth. I’m talking about embracing the art of napping.
Walk or soft play? Soft play or walk? Walk or soft play? At present, due to my ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude, my son could be forgiven for thinking there are only two leisure activities on offer in this world. But here’s the thing. From baby raves to science museums via library sessions and petting zoos there are absolutely loads of things you can do with a kid. So why am I not out there doing them? Well, today it’s raining. But tomorrow, just you try and stop me.
Mobile phone usage
This year, as well as attempting to stop using my mobile in front of my kid, I am going to try to go cold turkey in the bedroom*. This may sound extreme, but it’s necessary for a couple of reasons. First, the period before we go to bed is about the only time of day my wife and I get to chat to each other – so catching up on Facebook and BBC Sport during this period is both relationship damaging and rude. Second, although checking my emails, Whatsapps and social network pages in between my early morning ‘rocking our little one to sleep’ shifts has always seemed like a good use of time, it actually stimulates the brain in a way that makes it more difficult for me to nod off when baby eventually goes to Sleepytown.
And that’s it. Those are the five resolutions that I hope will make me a better parent in 2017. Are they big? No. Are they clever? Not really. Will they work? I don’t know. But I am excited. And that’s got to be a good thing.
Until next time…
*Note to anyone going ‘but my phone is my alarm’. ALARM CLOCKS COST ABOUT £5.